How powerful are beliefs when it comes to the self-identification that I call branding. In many ways it is the All Powerful Oz. You know Oz? He is the man behind the curtain that pretends to be a reality.

Not only do our belief systems control and create the purposes and needs that we covet in life, they also shape and filter the information we see every day. I am making the argument that our beliefs control everything we do, use, buy and integrate into our lives. This is why we tell brands that, if they wish to grow market share, they need to personify (i.e. reflect) the beliefs of the target audience they wish to influence. It is not enough for a brand to have the bells and whistles of innovation because consumers view the value of a brand through the colored lenses of their own precepts.

What exactly do I mean by this? The point I am making is that unless you pander to the beliefs of the target audience you will never break through to them. Pander can have very negative connotations. But the filters of prejudice (meaning to pre-judge based upon core beliefs) are so powerful that no message can get through. If the message does get through, human beings bend that message to reinforce their world view.

What people believe about Planned Parenthood.

Here is a politically hot topic example. The pro-life faction of American society holds the precept that life begins at conception as fundamental to their very being. Its members see an attack on their position as an attack on themselves. It is deeply personal. Please forgive me if I am using a topic close to your heart to make a point. I could just as easily chosen from another belief system. This one, however, is timely.

Remember a few months back, videos were circulating on Facebook with a hidden camera exposing Planned Parenthood for selling fetal body parts? Many of my Facebook friends shared the video and many more expressed their outrage over the expose. Planned Parenthood became the most worthy advisory of their desire to see abortion eliminated. As a belief system, this is the Manga Carta of personal identity. So steeped is it in the fabric of believers that it surpasses all other concerns.

Planned Parenthood

Turns out the Planned Parenthood video was edited.

So, when the reports started to circulate that the video tape was in fact edited and manipulated, did the same Facebook friends circulate the rebuttal? Nope. Not a one. They chose to believe the first report because it supported the agenda of their beliefs. They did what we all do when faced with information that seems to be at odds with our core beliefs. They ignore it.

But wait, it gets worse. Just recently, a very conservative judge in Texas (in a very conservative state) brought charges up on that video tape. Not against the Planned Parenthood characters. Nope. He charged the producers of the tape with fraud and intent to commit a crime (soliciting the sale of human parts).

So what do the right-to -life believers say about this? Well it turns out to be just another example of corrupt government, reinforcing their belief in the institutional injustice of today’s government. Truth, which is always subjective anyway, simply can’t win and has no place in the minds of true believers.

Brands and marketers who wish to change markets and grow share at the expense of their competitors should pay special heed to the power of belief. If your brand does not understand the preceptive power of the prospects you wish to influence, you run the risk of them ignoring you at best or seeing you as a reinforcement of how out of touch you are at worst. No new truth or product benefit will save you. Human beings covet the WHY. They want to know why something is true and not just simply the facts. Great brands know this. That’s why choosey mothers choose Jif. Don’t believe me? Ask Skippy.

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